This group of three guys, Josh Sheldon, Jeff Compton and Dan McCain are big drop and technical creek rafters who enjoy pushing the limits of rafting and paddling, running rivers and drops that most people would consider impossible in a raft.
Josh started rafting in 2004 because he was looking to find new fly-fishing spots. For the first five years he spent a lot of time rowing classic camping runs like the Deschutes, Rogue, and Illinois. The love of camping, fishing, nature and beautiful rivers brought him back at every chance. Riley Baxter (Previous owner of Andy and Bax) was one of Josh’s great rafting friends. In 2009 he persuaded Josh to work at his whitewater shop. They and other good friends started paddling the rivers of Riley’s past. The other type of classic runs in the northwest; a love for creeking was born. The Wind, Canyon creek, and the East Fork of the Lewis were some of the new to “creeking” favorites. One year at the Northwest Creeking Competition, they ran a 10’ non-bailing Sevylor down EFL with no swims. At this point, Josh’s dreams of running legendary creeks in guidebooks filled his head. In 2011 at the NWCC he had no partner for Canyon Creek. The river was a stout flow of 1500 cfs and the race was canceled. Standing at the put in, he was approached by two boaters and talked about running a R3 (not recommended). Little did he know the two were Jeff Compton and Dan McCain! At the end of the run Dan said “you should start boating with us, “I’ll change your life”. That it did. Josh tried to get out every weekend with them. Sometimes it was a mission for a first descent, Little White Salmon, high water Green Truss runs, or just park and huck “stunt boating”. Over the years, the group and other boaters built life a life long bond. The love of rivers brings them back at every chance.
“My go to paddle of choice for running steep creeks or big water is the Sawyer Free Fall. It’s extremely lightweight for such a workhorse. It can take the abuse of rocks, drops and big holes. We’ve been putting Sawyer paddles to the test for years on some of the hardest whitewater out there, and I’m still amazed a what they do.”
“The SquareTop oar with the 7” DyneLite blade takes me down my local steelhead runs to oaring big water class 5. Hands down it is the best oar ever made. It has unprecedented balance and strength in a lightweight oar. The natural counterbalance means I can put in long days of rowing without feeling beat up by my oars. I love the fact Sawyer products are all made by hand here in the USA.”
Jeff got his first taste of whitewater and the rafting lifestyle at age ten when he went on an eight day lower Grand Canyon trip with his family. It was at this point he made the fateful decision to be a raft guide when he grew up. At age sixteen this dream came to fruition. He went to guide school in the spring and spent the rest of the summer living in a tent on the Trinity river in Northern California with his twin brother, running the river by raft or kayak as much as time would allow. Over the next 8 years, raft guiding took him to many rivers in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and even southern Mexico.
He always wanted to push the limits of rafting and often had trouble finding people who shared that drive. That is until he moved to Portland Oregon in 2009. Here he met Dan McCain and class V rafting started taking on a whole new meaning. Training on legendary runs like the Green Truss, Little White Salmon, and Idaho’s incomparable North Fork Payette, they were able to push the limits and increase they’re skill level significantly. Jeff has been on some amazing first raft descents like the Middle Fork of the Kings river and Fantasy Falls of the North Fork Mokulumne, as well as bagging record high descents of the Little White and parts of the North Fork Payette among others. Now he splits his time between Portland and hopefully inspiring new rafter as a guide on the Grand Canyon.
Dan got the river bug while attending Montana State University in his home state of Montana. He rented a raft from the university sporting shop and ran a Class III section of the Yellowstone River and was immediately hooked. Using his unsuspecting friends as guinea pigs, he began guiding them down the Lochsa River in Idaho, where he truly fell in love with whitewater.
Looking for a dental school with easy access to the outdoors lead Dan to Portland, Oregon. He had quickly exhausted the numerous whitewater runs that are common in the area when he met Jacob Cruiser. Jacob is a kayaker that enjoys getting off the beaten path and convinced Dan to do them same. Dan began running some of the rivers and creeks that had never been rafted and was hooked once again.
“The best paddles out there. The Pro Stick is a lightweight indestructible paddle that you can always count on to hold up to some of the hardest whitewater.”
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